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Rick Perry: Rand Paul is all wrong about Iraq

In a strongly worded op-ed, the Texas governor and potential 2016 presidential candidate takes a stand on Iraq — and against Rand Paul.
In this March 7, 2014 file photo, Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md.
In this March 7, 2014 file photo, Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md.

Rick Perry wants Americans to know two things about Iraq: The U.S. must intervene, and Rand Paul is all wrong.

In a strongly worded op-ed published late Friday in The Washington Post, the Texas governor and 2012 GOP presidential contender blasted the junior Republican senator from Kentucky for his "isolationist policies," saying that the U.S. must do "more with our military and intelligence communities" to help bring down the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The Sunni extremist group has been responsible for seizing large portions of the Middle Eastern country and killing over 1,000 -- mostly civilian -- people since June.

Perry, in his second op-ed of the week (he has also written two letters to President Obama in recent days), qualifies himself to weigh in on matters of national security on the basis of his veteran status and history of "Texas National Guard deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan." He goes on to blame Obama for Iraq's current state of turmoil -- "The lousy choices we face today are the price of failed leadership" -- and says the U.S. should provide "meaningful assistance" to Iraq, which "can include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sharing and ­airstrikes."

Obama, meanwhile, has pledged not to send troops into combat in Iraq, but there are several hundred troops stationed in the country to assist with security operations.

Of course, Perry's op-ed isn't just about Iraq; it's also about Rand Paul, who is seen as a top contender for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination -- a position Perry may want for himself.

Perry points the finger at Paul for "ignoring the profound threat" posed by ISIS, and "inaction."

Perhaps Perry's greatest grievance with Paul, however, is Paul's invocation of former President Ronald Reagan to justify a lack of military intervention in Iraq. Perry calls Paul's analysis "wrong," saying the senator "conveniently omitted Reagan’s long internationalist record of leading the world with moral and strategic clarity."

Earlier this week, Perry, the longest serving governor in Texas history, made headlines for comparing Obama's failure to visit the undocumented immigrant families on the U.S.-Mexico border to former President George W. Bush's failure to visit New Orleans after it was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

More than 52,000 unaccompanied minors have fled violence in their Central American home-countries since October, often walking alone across the U.S.-Mexico border, acting on false rumors that children who enter the country will be allowed to stay. 

Perry and Obama met one-on-one, behind closed doors Wednesday for 15 minutes aboard Air Force One in Texas, for a conversation the president later described as "constructive."